Professional wrestlers have often been viewed as superhuman heroes and villains in a constant war of good and evil seen by thousands live and millions on television. So what kind of person would think it’s a good idea to run into a wrestling ring and assault one of the wrestlers? Believe it or not, it happens more often than you would think. In a lot of those fights, the average Joe fan has actually 'won' a good percentage of them.
Through the years of professional wrestling history, the kinds of fan-wrestler altercations have varied. There are the times when a fan attacks a wrestler during a match or promo and has to be taken away by security. There are also the situations where a wrestler is attacked out of nowhere both in the ring and outside the arena they are performing at.
Then there are stories where a wrestler may have started an argument with the wrong person at the wrong time (i.e. members of the United States Marine Corps). Despite looking like some of the toughest athletes in all of sports, wrestlers are also human despite how they are portrayed in the squared circle.
One would assume the wrestlers who lose these fights are the kind who are on the lower-tier of the match card. But even some of the best to compete from WWE to WCW and all the way down to the independent circuit have lost fights with fans. The following is a list of the top 15 pro wrestlers who have lost fights to regular people.
15 The Messiah
William Welch has been known as one of the toughest men on the independent circuit. He’s most noted for his work with Combat Zone Wrestling – a promotion known for ultra-violent wrestling. However, The Messiah had a rough altercation in 2002 involving two men who came to his apartment. Welch thought the two were friends of his roommate. But it was believed they were sent by someone as hired attackers.
The two attacked Welch with one putting him in a chokehold while the other used a pair of garden shears to cut off his thumb. To add insult to injury, the men took the thumb with them. The incident actually received a lot of attention from national media outlets and was even dramatized for a 2002 episode of America’s Most Wanted.
14 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman might be the worst possible choice for a fan to attack at a WWE event. The former strongman would certainly look the part of someone who could legitimately rip someone to shreds. However, one fan during a March 2016 RAW dark match decided to test Strowman. In a tag team match after RAW went off the air, Strowman was at ringside leaning on the barricade near the crowd.
A fan sitting at ringside decided to strike Strowman. Instead of the expected physical reaction we all would have had, Strowman walked away and pointed the fan out to security. In a world where wrestlers would certainly have the legal right to defend themselves against a fan, it’s sort of disappointing to see Strowman just walk away after being punched. Sure this may not have been a "fight", but when someone gets punched in the face it has to be considered as more of a fight than not.
13 Lio Rush
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the young Lio Rush. He’s only 22 years old and he’s already become a big attraction for major independent wrestling promotions like Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor. But despite being a rising star in professional wrestling, even a young kid is going to attract some hate in the audience. There is little to explain what led to the incident in question, however.
After wrestling Shane Strickland at a wrestling event in Pennsylvania, Rush was leaving the venue at about midnight when someone attacked him. Rush would go on social media asking for fans to contact him if they had information about the attack. Rush wasn’t able to provide a description other than the burgundy hooded sweatshirt his attacker was wearing.
12 Chris Hero
While he has returned to the WWE as Kassius Ohno in NXT, Chris Hero has a long history of being one of the best independent wrestling stars in the last decade. However, he’s often found himself getting into some trouble with the fans. There was some back and forth between Hero and a couple of fans during a 2007 show with Independent Wrestling Association, which is considered normal for indie promotions.
But a fan slapped Hero and he swung back; with the fan claiming Hero said the n-word. Later on in the match, Hero was at ringside as another fan who was a friend of the first gave Hero a knife-edge chop of his own. Hero then tried to throw a punch, but missed. He would be held back by security before the match would continue. Certainly not a moment that makes Hero look good.
Professional wrestling in the 1990s seemed to have a lot of problems with fans who took the show a little bit too seriously. During an episode of WCW Thunder during the height of the Monday Night War, Raven was cutting a promo about Diamond Dallas Page. Raven was sitting in a corner of the ring as a fan came from behind to pull him out of the ring to attack. Security had to pull the fan off of the WCW United States Champion.
It was certainly a frustrating moment for Raven who was trying to deliver a passionate promo ahead of a match with DDP. Raven was a little off his game afterward. Raven continued his promo despite the microphone having been turned off during the scuffle. It was a tough night for Raven as he would deliver a passionate promo that pretty much went to waste due to the fan attack.
10 Alberto Del Rio
Ever since he joined WWE and repackaged himself from his family’s Dos Caras legacy, Alberto Del Rio has become one of the best heels in professional wrestling. He was able to portray the kind of heel that fans would think about wanting to punch right in an effort to wipe his confident smile off his face. But one fan decided to try his best during a 2015 show by World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico.
In a match with Rey Gonzalez, Del Rio went outside the ring only to be greeted by a masked fan’s fist. Del Rio would pull his attacker in for an MMA-style clinch to prevent him from getting any more punches in. Security and Gonzalez had to keep Del Rio safe. Del Rio does know how to fight, as a recent story of him beating up his brother in a jail cell would prove.
9 John “Bradshaw” Layfield
John “Bradshaw” Layfield has often been viewed as a bully behind the scenes in the WWE. There was likely a large number of WWE Superstars backstage who wanted to secretly, or some not so much, knock him out. However, one person who would actually do that was not the kind of person you would have expected. During a trip back from Iraq for Tribute to the Troops, there was an incident involving JBL and announcer Joey Styles.
The former voice of ECW actually knocked JBL out and caused the former WWE Champion to bleed from under the eye. Styles has often showed his passion through promos on television. It’s possible that JBL had pestered Styles one too many times that led to the announcer not being able to take it anymore. Did Styles yell "OH MY GOD!!" after knocking JBL out?
8 Ole Anderson
Wrestling fans today are certainly aware that the action is scripted and nothing, for the most part, should be taken personal. However, professional wrestling in the 1970s was a completely different culture. One where many wrestling fans thought everything happening was legitimate. It was a time when it was a well-kept secret from the public. That would lead to a number of incidents like the one Ole Anderson had in 1976.
During a match in Greenville, S.C., a fan who sat at ringside decided to attack Ole Anderson, stabbing Anderson in the arm and chest. The fan was an elderly man who was a regular at the events, where Anderson was one of the more hated villains. Anderson would be rushed to a hospital where he had to undergo hours of surgery for the injuries he sustained.
7 Blackjack Mulligan
Blackjack Mulligan was a big name in professional wrestling through the 1970s. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame after being a successful tag team champion during his career. He had one big match against Pedro Morales for the WWE Heavyweight Championship in 1971, during the time when the WWE was a territorial promotion focused in the Northeast part of the United States.
An older fan would actually run towards the ring and attack Mulligan during the championship match. It ended with the fan stabbing Mulligan in the thigh, which led to Mulligan needing immediate medical attention. According to a story done in 2004 by the Boston Globe, Mulligan apparently needed about 100 stitches when he was at the hospital.
6 Randy Orton
Some wrestling fans who are crazy enough to run into the ring to approach a wrestler certainly must have a lot of confidence. In the case of one fan during a 2013 WWE live event in Cape Town, South Africa, some would feel he showed he had the “cajones” to attack Randy Orton. Others would say he attacked in a cowardly fashion by striking him where the sun doesn’t shine.
The attack was certainly out of nowhere as Orton was posing on one of the turnbuckles. The strike below the belt sent The Viper crumbling to the mat. Security would quickly remove the fan from the arena before going to jail to face all of the obvious charges any fan running onto a field and punching an athlete downstairs would face.
5 “Classy” Freddie Blassie
One of the greatest managers in professional wrestling history also had a pretty successful in-ring career as well. “Classy” Freddie Blassie came from the territorial days of wrestling’s history where the secret of wrestling being predetermined was still kept under lock and key. But during his career as a heel, both as a wrestler and a manager, Blassie found himself in fights with fans on a consistent basis.
Blassie claims that he has been stabbed more than 20 times by fans during altercations. His claims have never really been 100 percent confirmed. Although considering the time that he was most active in wrestling, it’s something that would be very likely. Also, one would assume Blassie was the kind of guy who would have bragged about winning a fight where he was stabbed. Therefore, it’s likely he didn't get the better of those fans.
4 Kevin Nash
Believe it or not, there are people who really disliked Kevin Nash. We know, the guy who claimed Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were “vanilla midgets” and also claimed The Rock was “gay” seems like such a stand-up guy. But even when he was booked as a face, there were fans who didn’t like Nash. There was a feud when “Macho Man’ Randy Savage was the heel against the babyface Nash in 1999.
Savage had attacked Nash and put lipstick on him during an episode of Nitro. But afterward, a fan had rushed into the ring and actually dropped an elbow onto Nash. This led to Nash and a swarm of security members taking down the fan in the ring. This might be speculation, but there’s a very good chance that the fan in question may have had at least a few alcoholic beverages that night.
3 “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
It was mentioned earlier that wrestling fans in the past would have a true hatred for the villains in the ring. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was one of the best in the business and really should have been a world champion either for WWE or WCW. But that’s another argument for another article. Piper had his altercations with fans. But he recalled an incident during a small show in Raleigh, N.C., where a fan was waving a knife calling Piper out.
Piper didn’t like how this fan was acting because there were children very close to him. This led Piper to go after the knife-wielding fan. Less than a minute in, someone else attacked Piper and distracted him enough for the knife to hit him in the chest. Piper would quickly pick up a nearby pipe to scare off the fan. It was actually one of three times that Piper said he was stabbed in his wrestling career.
2 Killer Kowalski
Trained by Lou Thesz, Killer Kowalski was one of the toughest men in the wrestling industry during a time when it was viewed as a legitimate sport. On top of that, Kowalski was certainly one of the best villains in the industry. Fans would regularly attack him with several different items thrown at him over the years. This would include but is not limited to, pigs ears, cigars and apple cores.
Kowalski once told Esquire magazine in 2007 that a woman actually walked up to him and stabbed him in the back with a knife. He would add in other interviews with newspapers that it was a common occurrence for a villain like him. It’s part of the reason why Kowalski had a police escort to and from the ring after several fights with fans.
1 Shawn Michaels
If there was any type of person you would never want to upset, it would be the men and women of the United States Marine Corps. Honestly, any kind of military service member is trained to take out any kind of opponent. But the Marines have a special kind of training that separates them from the pack. Shawn Michaels, along with Davey Boy Smith and Sean Waltman, learned that lesson the hard way.
The story is that the three wrestlers were at a bar in Syracuse, NY, in 1995 and got into an argument with a group of U.S. Marines. A brawl ensued and it did not end well for any of the wrestlers, especially for the Heartbreak Kid. In a 2011 interview, Justin Credible was asked about the incident and said he saw what happened. He followed it up with stating that Michaels was beaten up pretty bad.